This is the second of the two real-world liminalities I’d experienced in one day. The first at the vet (previous post) and the second on the sea front. My plan was to interpret rather than replicate this image, and to incorporate text as before. This time I used one of my own stories, Here the Magic Must Be (unpublished).
Using an A3 sketch book and some collaged pieces of the photograph, I made a preliminary structure to see what that triggered.
Then I cut the sheet out of the sketch book to make it more available to me; glossed it, then allowed dilute paint to run top to bottom (right to left) creating a rhythm.
It stayed like this overnight then I put it the right way round and painted into the collaged areas with dilute acrylics. Once dry, I added a layer of gloss varnish. Paint is applied primarily with flat brushes but also with my finger, the aim being to smear some paint and leave a fingerprint in red amongst the petals.
I had some new stencils which I was going to use here but they are difficult to line up so that it’s almost impossible to set letters exactly where you need them. They remain ghosted over on the right and I resorted to handwriting. I have also made tracery with a graphite pencil, indicating water swirls and ripples, and in the final images these have become more prominent along with additional, mirrored (as in repeated) words. In addition to the graphite, I also used soft white pastel to mute the black acrylic pen of the handwriting, and to lift highlights out of the water and the petals.
I found once I’d finished this, and also accepted that it’s a sketch that could benefit from being upgraded to a painting, I realised that I quite liked the top horizon as a separate piece. In fact, I think perhaps these are two separate pieces which possibly could be integrated, but not in this iteration.
There are three stories here; the first those flowers left on the bench which, from the plaque above them, must be marking an anniversary. Adult children commemorating their parents perhaps.
The second story is this:
Here the Magic Must Be
The river was almost at its zenith, that tipping point between the heaving press of the sea from the coast and the thundering weight of dark, fresh water draining from the hills. It glittered and sparkled along its banks as if strung with fairy lights.
The woman twiddled her handkerchief until it knotted and then pushed it into her pocket. Twice a day, every day, all of heaven and earth balanced here on this point, she thought. For reassurance, she felt for the handle of the knife that sat quiet next to the handkerchief and watched a pair of terns shrieking and wheeling overhead. They landed on the river, drifting up-stream at opposing angles until the tidal cusp caught them, held them, suspended them in the moment.
The woman saw it. With sudden urgency, she pulled out the knife and reached to one side where a small regiment of roses lay swaddled in cellophane. She lifted the pale tag to her mouth and breathed her warm breath into the name written there, pressed it between her palms to remind him of her flesh, and pierced her finger on a thorn to give him her blood.
Then she stood, cut the flowers free of their wrapping, and approached the water’s edge. If magic existed anywhere it had to be here at the turning of tides, in the repeated drowning and birthing of land. She crouched down, touched the petals to the water and wished.
I wrote it after two incidents walking by the river. You know those things you understand implicitly but for some reason never quite ‘see’ in the real world? I know about gravity, tides, the moon and how all that works, but it only really came home to me one day watching a gull slowly riding the waning tide up river, then gradually coming to a halt before drifting slowly back on the now outgoing tide. It occurred to me then that the whole of cosmology was held there at the moment, and it happened twice a day on every tidal river on earth.
Some time later, along the same river bank, I saw a bunch of flowers in the branches of a scrawny winter shrub right by the river. They had not been shoved there, they had been placed where they could be seen but would not be accidentally dislodged. This, it seemed to me, was a marker of someone’s loss at a place that must have meant a great deal to them. They were there for weeks.
13th February. I’ve been putting in some video time since finding PhotoMirage; working out how to load sounds into Filmora Pro and to add tracks to my external sound folder that I mix there. This one uses a track I made a while ago using Magix Music Maker and which takes me away from my usual dystopian infra-boom into slightly more surrealistic territory.